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Virtual courtrooms could provide relief to the prison system

Virtual courtrooms will now provide easier and timely access to the judiciary with the aim of conducting matters in a safe environment as the country continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual courtrooms which are several retrofitted containers, were unveiled today at the Lusignan Prison in the presence of Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Chief Justice Roxane George, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn, Chief Magistrate Ann McClennon and prison and police officials.

โ€œThese courts will enhance the capacity of the judiciary to uphold the fundamental right as provided for in article 144 of the constitutional of Guyana,โ€ Chief Justice George pointed out as she addressed officials, โ€œby which defendants and accused persons are to be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time,โ€ she said. Over the years, several violent protests have broken out at several prison facilities as prisoners protest, among other things, delays in trials.

There are some 33 additional courts at prison facilities across the country she Chief Justice explained, 14 at Lusignan, 4 at Camp Street, 8 and New Amsterdam, 3 at Mazaruni Prison and 4 at Timehri. Chief Justice George said that the use of technology will definitely bring justice closer to the people, โ€œThis demonstrates a commitment to uphold the rule of law and respect the human rights of prisoners and victims and their families who have a vested interest in the timely hearing of criminal cases,โ€ she said.

Attorney General Nandlall feels that the โ€œhistoricโ€ initiative will save the state. Additionally, he sees relief to the prison population, โ€œit will alleviate the great costs associated with the transportation of prisoners from prison locations to magistratesโ€™ courts across the country,โ€ Nandall pointed out, ย โ€œit will bring great speed to the criminal justice system, it will protect the magistrate, the prisoner, the police officer, the court staff from being exposed unnecessarily to the deadly covid virus,โ€ he said.